We made the announcement on May 19th on the event blog for Kingston Beta. The headline read Marc Canter, Founder of Macromedia, creator of FLASH Media Player will speak at the ConnectiMass technology event Kingston Beta in June. The Jamaican and Caribbean tech and business community has been a buzz ever since.
And yes he will be speaking their via Skype Video on Thursday June 24th, 2010 to the Jamaica’s Kingston Beta community at the Spanish Court Hotel in Kingston.
Since we became Facebook friends, I took the opportunity to get a pre-event interview with him. So I sent him some questions and he answered them in a candid and direct way. Here’s the interview:
SC:When you started MarcoMind what was your intention, your goal at that time?
MC:To create video game development tools.
SC:Was Macromedia bootstrapped, then growth fed by profits or was it venture funded? And how did the type of funding play a role in Macromedia’s success?
MC: Angel funded with $100k from my father-in-law – we produced 7 products in three years. We received VC money – after five years. The VCs came in and took over. Then kicked me out.
SC: The start and finish timeline of Macromedia can be summed up like this – (well according to Wikipedia anyway)- Founded in 1992 by Marc Canter…formerly an American graphics and web-development software house headquartered in San Francisco, California, produced such products as Macromedia Flash as well as Macromedia Dreamweaver. Its rival, Adobe Systems, acquired Macromedia on December 3, 2005 and as of 2010 controls the line of Macromedia products.
What are the factors – internal, external ( USA) that enabled Macromedia to achieve success?
MC: By the time the company was renamed Macromedia – it had achieved all of the milestones, overcome all the barriers, paid our dues, built up a new market, invented new product categories, pioneered and entirely new industry. That was MacroMind. We never had enough money. When the VCs brought in their CEO – he spent more in the 1st QT, than we had in the previous 5 years.
That first CEO went back to the trough (VC rounds) = 5 times in 2 years.
That company and culture of MacroMind was entrepreneurial. The culture of Macromedia was “buy a company rather than invent the technology”.
Macromedia never invented anything.
SC: This Adobe/Macromedia deal was clearly a strategic move against Microsoft…but…why did you “sell” ? Even though you walked away had trailerloads of cash..how did you move on from this? Was this your exit plan?
MC: It wasn’t me – it was them. Mating dinosaurs is how I’d typify that deal. By the time that deal happened both companies are already dead. They just don’t know it yet.
SC: It’s been said we’re now in the age of small business, there is now a rash of small and very successful software companies like 37 signals- is this the way forward?
MC: Inn the 80’s there were 100’s of software companies.
in the 90’s 1,000’s
in the 00’s 10,000’s
and in the future there will be 100,000’s of software companies. How many will be the next Google or Facebook? .00000001% all the rest will think global and act local.
SC: We have a small but vibrant software industry here in Jamaica and the Caribbean…speak to the entrepreneurs….tell them what you think are the things you believe will help make them successful and profitable.
MC: Open APIs, connecting ‘cyberspace to meatspace’, build software with some stage or role for humans to be directly involved in. Design loosely coupled with other open systems and platforms.
SC: The centre of innovation is now the world it seems, innovation is no longer exclusively coming out of places we expect them to….does Jamaica have what it takes to be a centre of innovation? I ask this as we’re seeing lots of activity in Jamaica, across the Caribbean, we’ve predicted that this year is the tipping point for tech industry here and I want to see if we have the factors for that really to happen.
MC: Sure why not? But Jamaica can also fall on its face if it does not get it’s PEOPLE to use companies. Its a simple notion – “all jobs of the future will require having computer skills”. Don’t worry so much about the software developers, “train the children!”
SC: You’re speaking at Kingston Beta on Thursday 24th live by Ustream, first of all thanks for saying yes to that…you are now the Founder and CEO of Broadband Mechanics, and I read online I believe on your blog, that your goal is to Making Software Social and you’re on the road to creating another billion dollar company…without telling us everything before Kingston Beta…what is Broadband Mechanics about and what’s this move about Making Software Social?
MC: That message is 2-3 years old. That’s what’s on the Broadband Mechanics web site. That company has a social networking platform that one could use to create their own Ning, or Facebook or any kind of social network. We call that “white labeled”. The source code is available for that product at: update.peopleaggregator.org.
But to me that was 5-6 years ago – when I started that platform – which was a culmination of years of designing and building many of the original social networks (2003-2006.)
About 2.5 years ago I started work on a book – called “How to build the Open Mesh” – which was a theoretical treatise on how open standards and dashboard can form a distributed system for allowing ANY software developer to “play” in the game.
After I finished the book I was looking for new opportunities as the (economic) downturn had decimated my customers and we had only one remaining customer – the U.S. Army ROTC program. So I laid my book onto the desk of the CTO of CWRU (in Cleveland) and he invited me to teach there. So I wrote a second book for my class: “How to build a Digital City” – where I go into details on just how we can create jobs and build out a new kind of software infrastructure.
Here are links to downloads of my two books:
I’ve now focused my energies on starting a new company called “Digital City Mechanics” – which will be the commercial version of my Phd. thesis. The idea is that I will spend five years:
– deploying my ideas into local “digital bureaus”
– we will leverage the “Haves” to help the “Have Nots”
– we will train our future workers in a “virtuous process of volunteerism and community involvement”
– and we will utilize sponsored multimedia projects to get paid workers to intern and apprentice our trainees”
– who will then learn marketable job skills by BUILDING multimedia projects
And that’s where Jamaica comes in
Now ask me “what was I saying back in 1991-2 when I came ot Jamaica with Hugo?” And what did I say on Mutabaraka’s show?